Families are encouraged to stay home as much as possible, which means fewer trips to the grocery store. It’s recommended that you purchase two weeks of food at a time. Storing all of that food, especially fresh produce, can be a challenge. You can reduce the number of trips to the grocery store by safely freezing ingredients and meals. Here are a few tips on what ingredients can be successfully frozen, how long they will keep, and how to safely thaw them.
The safest temperature at which to store frozen foods is 0℉ or below. Check your freezer to make sure its temperature is set appropriately.
Store tightly wrapped whole loaves of whole grain bread, muffins, bagels, or rolls in your freezer for three to six months. Uncooked bread dough can remain frozen for up to one month. For a quick, whole-grain breakfast, try these Apple Raisin Bran Muffins or these crowd-pleasing Carrot Pineapple Muffins. Get kids involved in making pizza dough for a future build-your-own night.
Fruits and Vegetables
Most fruits can stay frozen for up to 12 months. Most vegetables can also be stored frozen for up to 10 months if they were frozen while fresh, and up to eight months if they were bought frozen. Note that cabbage, salad greens, celery and tomatoes do not freeze well. Frozen fruits and veggies are perfect to make this balanced and delicious smoothie recipe.
Meats and Seafood
Ground beef and pork steaks or chops can be safely frozen for two to three months. Beef roasts can be stored for six to 12 months, and beef steaks can be stored for six to eight months. Raw chicken can be safely stored for up to 10 months, and cooked chicken for three months. Fresh, lean fish can be stored for up to six months, and uncooked shrimp for 12 months. Try these family-favorite Oven Baked Chicken Nuggets, or spice up your menu with this recipe for Skillet Pork and Apples.
Butter can be safely frozen for six to nine months, and cottage cheese can be frozen for three months. Note that milk can be frozen for up to one month, and hard cheeses can be frozen for up to six weeks. You should not freeze eggs in their shells, but can freeze whites and egg yolks for 12 months. Don’t know what to do with frozen cottage cheese or hard cheese? We suggest this easy lasagna recipe.
Casseroles can be stored frozen for up to three months. Cooked poultry, beef, or seafood dishes can be frozen for up to six months. Make the most out of what you have at home and build your own casserole to eat now or later. Or, follow along with this video to build your own sheet pan meal:
Thaw foods safely
The safest way to thaw foods is in the refrigerator. This can take longer than other methods, so plan for foods to take 24 hours to be ready to eat. Use cold water to thaw frozen meat and seafood quicker. Either run cold water over the meat until it is thawed, or submerge it in cold water and change the water every 30 minutes. The quickest way to thaw food is in the microwave. Make sure that the food is in a microwave-safe container, and any non-microwavable packaging is removed.
Looking for more resources? Our team at the Virginia Family Nutrition Program has plenty to help you and your family through this time on our website. Learn more ways to preserve fresh produce, check out our Build a Better Pantry series about stocking up on healthy foods while on a budget, or find all of our Build-Your-Own recipes with how-to videos to make customized family-friendly meals.